The Auburn Tigers are entering the Gus Malzahn era this year with a lot of changes hitting the program. One of the immediate changes was the approach to recruiting. Gene Chizik and his staff did well, but Malzahn is looking to top that.
This year started off with lots of JUCOs, but next year’s class will need to be full of young playmakers. There are 10 recruits that Auburn is in desperate need to land in the next year. As the recruiting cycle for 2013 cools down in the next week, 2014 will pick up within a matter of days.
Here is a look at the guys to watch as the new recruiting season hits.
Tre’ Williams is one of the elite linebackers heading into the 2014 recruiting season. He is a rangy player that has the frame to add weight in college, making him a solid inside linebacker prospect.
He has a nose for the football, and tends to always find ways to penetrate into opposing backfields. He has shown the speed and agility to be able to hang with slot receivers as well.
Williams’ recruitment is going to be one of the most followed in the coming season as both in state schools will be heavily recruiting this top prospect. Auburn needs help at linebacker, and could offer the shot at immediate playing time—something that could tip their favor for his signature.
According to the 247Sports.com Composite Rankings, Williams is a 5-star and ranked as the No. 3 inside linebacker and the No. 34 overall recruit in the country.
Justin Thornton is a highly regarded rush end from Vigor High School. Auburn is trying to make inroads back into the major recruiting hot bed of Mobile, Ala., but it was tough with Alabama lurking and with Dameyune Craig doing work for Florida State in his old home town.
Now Craig is on Auburn’s staff and is prepared to take back his city.
It starts with Thornton. This is a rangy athlete with quality speed.
Thornton could add bulk at the next level and play in the 250-pound range. The Tigers are in need of star playmakers at end, and Thornton could see early time at the position. This is a recruit the Tigers must lock up for 2014.
According to the 247Sports.com Composite Rankings, Thornton is a 4-star ranked as the No. 2 weak-side defensive end and No. 47 player in the country.
Ronnie Clark is a big-bodied safety that has elite closing speed. He can cover well in zone, and he brings the wood when he makes it to the ball carrier.
Clark is also effective against the run. He would be a great fit for the star position at Auburn. The Tigers are looking for a young safety that has the size of a linebacker, but the agility of a safety. Clark fits the mold.
The Tigers are looking for a young defender to take the Star position to new levels and Clark could be their guy. It will be another tough in state battle for his signature, but Auburn should have a great shot.
According to the 247Sports.com Composite Rankings, Clark is a 4-star ranked the No. 6 safety and No. 100 overall player in the country.
Rashaan Evans is a linebacker playing in the Tigers backyard. He is one of the state’s top 2014 prospects at the position, bringing a lot of attention to the Auburn High program alongside 2013 linebacker Reuben Foster.
Evans is a fast outside linebacker who has a lean body, but he can add a lot of bulk to his 6’3” frame before his college career is done. The Tigers would likely place him at the outside linebacker or Star position, depending on his frame once he made it to campus.
This is a must get for Auburn as it has lost too many local recruits to in state rival Alabama over the past few years.
According to the 247Sports.com Composite Rankings, Evans is a 4-star and is listed as the No. 5 outside linebacker and No. 120 overall prospect in the country.
Josh Frazier is a huge defensive line prospect out of Arkansas. He is in Gus Malzahn’s old home state, and that should help Malzahn have a bit of an edge.
He is being recruited by every major program in the country, and his ability to plug any offensive line is why. He will be able to come in and play immediately if he is ready athletically.
Look for this to be a huge SEC battle before February of 2014 rolls around. Frazier will be one of the most sought after linemen in this class.
According to the 247Sports.com Composite Rankings, Frazier is a 4-star ranked as the No. 4 defensive tackle and No. 44 overall player in the country.
Damian Prince is a huge offensive tackle prospect out of the Maryland high school circuit. Maryland and Washington, D.C. have picked up the steam with talented players in the past few recruiting cycles, and coaches are taking notice nationally.
Prince is one of those players. He already has the frame to become a physical freak once he makes it into the college game.
Auburn is in need of offensive linemen and Prince would be a great pickup for the 2014 class. He is going to need work with his footwork, but he could be an instant impact guy along the line if needed.
According to the 247Sports.com Composite Rankings, Prince is a 5-star ranked as the No. 3 offensive tackle and No. 29 overall player in the country.
Hutcherson was a commitment to Auburn during the 2012 recruiting cycle, but delayed grades forced him to take the JUCO route. With only one year needed to qualify, he should be able to join the team this coming season.
The tight end is a utilized position in the Malzahn offense despite the reputation that it is not a primary focus. The Tigers need a big body like Hutcherson to take over the position and bring down big catches in the next few years.
As the Tigers look to continue to transition young quarterbacks in the next two years, having a tight end like Hutcherson would be helpful. He is a great safety valve that catches anything in his wheelhouse.
Hutcherson has yet to be re-ranked by any major recruiting sites.
Auburn has had success pulling recruits out of Lincoln High School in the past, and the Tigers hope to rekindle that relationship with Kendall Randolph.
Randolph is one of the top cornerback prospects in the state of Florida, bringing great hips and speed to the position. He is sticky in man coverage, and has the closing speed to cover zone very well.
He may struggle against the run at the next level early because of his size, but his speed will help him bring a pop to running backs despite his size.
The Tigers need secondary players desperately—Randolph would be a huge pickup.
Randolph has yet to be ranked by any major recruiting site.
Wesley Green is a quick corner that will develop into a major impact player in a few short years. The Tigers are looking to embed themselves in the Georgia recruiting scene, and it can be rekindled with Green joining the Tigers commit list.
The Tigers have a lot of inroads with Rodney Garner in the state now, and the hope is that they can pull an impact player like Green. He plays well in zone, but he will need work in man coverage.
Against the run Green is a beast. He has great closing speed and would be a great addition to the Ellis Johnson scheme.
According to the 247Sports.com Composite Rankings, Green is a 4-star rated as the No. 14 cornerback in the country and the No. 138 overall player in the 2014 class.
Racean Thomas is one of the top running backs in the country out of Oxford High School in Alabama and is expected to be a heavy Alabama lean according to 247Sports.com.
Despite that, he is one of the best backs in the country, and the Tigers need to go after him with a full-court press. Thomas may not end up at Auburn, but the Tigers need to attempt to make it back into Oxford and gain some recruiting headway.
He has elite speed and is a powerful downhill runner. He has great one-cut ability, and could play from day one.
This will be a major coups if Auburn pulls it off.
According to 247Sports.com Composite Rankings, Thomas is a 5-star rated as the No. 4 running back and the No. 26 overall player in the country.